Archives for category: Corruption

This is a very satisfying post at the blog “Crooks & Liars.”

The vandals and terrorists who invaded the U.S. Capitol took selfies and posed as they desecrated one of the nation’s greatest civic spaces. They were engaged in criminal trespass and, yes, the far more serious crime of sedition. They went to the Capital to disrupt a process ordained by the Constitution. They struck at our democracy. Many of their faces have been identified. They are being fired and arrested. They humiliated our democracy, endangered the lives of members of Congress and their staff. They broke the law. Anyone who participated in this violent assault on our Capitol should face serious jail time.

Unfortunately, they are being faced with minor charges: trespassing, disorderly conduct, and the like. Not one of them so far has been charged with sedition or anything consequential.

In addition to those listed in this post, Richard Barnett of Gravette, Arkansas, was arrested by the FBI. He was identified as the guy sitting in Nancy Pelosi’s office with his feet on her desk. Her laptop was reported missing.

A guy just elected to the West Virginia legislature live-streamed his participation. He was arrested at his home by the FBI.

The guy seen carrying the Speaker’s podium was arrested in Pinellas County, Florida.

Hundreds who stormed the Capitol will never be identified or charged.

They should all be identified, charged, tried, and face serious jail time for their role in this despicable siege of our Capitol.

So you thought the election was over after Joe Biden won the vote of the Electoral College on December 14, as predicted, by 306-232. And perhaps you thought it was over when Mitch McConnell finally congratulated Biden after the Electoral College voted and called him the President-Elect.

But: Trump is continuing his hapless campaign to reverse the election, despite the fact that his claims of fraud were rejected more than 50 times in state and federal courts and twice by the Supreme Court. Stephen Miller said that the election was not finished, that several states had prepared their own slates of Trump electors who would take their case to Congress, and that the decision about the presidency would not be finished until January 20, Inauguration Day. George Conway of the Lincoln Project told Anderson Cooper on CNN that Trump was behaving as he is for three reasons: 1) he is delusional; 2) he is scamming his followers by raising money for himself (whoever heard of a billionaire appealing for $5?); 3) he is malevolent.

Michael Gerson wrote in the Washington Post about the hypocrisy of certain rightwing “leaders” who support Trump’s ridiculous claim that the election was “stolen.”

Gerson wrote about the assault on democracy by conservative leaders, who are enabling Trump’s delusional behavior:

“It was stolen,” said conservative luminary William Bennett on a recent podcast. “The election was stolen.”


In a Dec. 10 open letter, a group of conservative stalwarts — including activist Gary Bauer, former senator and former president of the Heritage Foundation James DeMint, and head of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins — alleged that “President Donald J. Trump is the lawful winner of the presidential election.” They called on state legislators in battleground states to “appoint clean slates of electors to the Electoral College to support President Trump” and urged the House and Senate to reject competing slates reflecting the actual vote.


For some of us, watching prominent conservatives turn against rationality and democracy is not just disappointing; it is disorienting...

The intellectual bankruptcy and moral hypocrisy of many conservative leaders is stunning. People who claimed to favor limited government now applaud Trump’s use of the executive branch to undermine an election. A similar attempt by Barack Obama would have brought comparisons to Fidel Castro. People who talked endlessly about respecting the Constitution affirm absurd slanders against the constitutional order. People who claimed to be patriots now spread false claims about their country’s fundamental corruption. People who talked of honoring the rule of law now jerk and gyrate according to the whims of a lawless leader.

These conservative leaders no longer deserve the assumption of sincerity. They are spreading conspiratorial lies so unlikely and irrational, they must know them to be lies.

Gerson questions their motives for their immoral claims. Is it cynicism? Fear? A will to power? Why accept blatant lies? Why attack the foundation of democracy, which is free and fair elections? Why defend a would-be tyrant?

Perhaps these conservative leaders view democracy as a secondary concern, compared with the broader crisis of Western civilization. Maybe resisting the impending arrival of cultural and economic Marxism requires conservatives to use whatever means are necessary — including the invalidation of a valid election.
This justification — “by any means necessary” — may be the least conservative arrangement of letters in the English language.

Traditional conservatives have regarded such ideas as the path to tyranny, the highway to the guillotine. This approach assumes an emergency that does not actually exist. Are the barbarian hordes really arriving under the brutal, pitiless direction of . . . Joe Biden? Will the rescue of civilization from decadence really be accomplished under the courageous moral leadership of . . . Donald Trump?


Conservatism is supposed to produce the best of citizens — lawful, loyal and respectful of the Constitution. In some quarters, it is now producing the worst — fractious, resentful and cynical. A large portion of the responsibility rests on conservative leaders, who have sold their convictions cheap.

The leader of Paramount Charter School in Broward County, now closed, was indicted for theft of federal funds. The school opened in 2015, promising to provide an education that would meet “the highest academic and personal standards.” Didn’t happen, say parents. After compiling a terrible academic record, the school closed in 2017.

Shauta Freeman, who said she sent three children there from 2015 to 2016, said the lights cut off at times, the water wouldn’t run, and so many teachers were fired that students from various grade levels were crowded into one room. “It was a nightmare.”

Now, the former president of the school, Jimika Williams, has been federally indicted on the charge of stealing federal funds from the school and committing wire fraud.

The indictment accuses Williams of embezzling nearly $389,000 in funds intended to go toward the school’s operating expenses. Instead, the indictment says they were used to buy a new car, pay her rent at a lavish Davie home and other expenses.

According to the indictment, Williams transferred funds from the school’s bank account to a shell account she set up to “deceive” other members of the governing board, auditors, local education authorities and others...

Freeman said the school initially sounded amazing when she first enrolled her children. But shortly after starting school she said her kids reported being left outside for long stretches of time, little to no instruction, days without lunch, and fighting between teachers and students...

According to the indictment, while Paramount struggled to staff classrooms and properly educate students, Williams made off with hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for the school.

Between 2015 and 2017, the indictment says she made almost monthly transfers between the school’s account and a shell account she created for sums ranging from $3,000 to $50,000 at a time.

This kind of behavior can be expected in states where anyone can open a charter school, and where oversight, accountability, and transparency are lax.

The former chief financial officer of a now-closed charter school in North Philadelphia was charged with embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the school for which he was responsible. The school is now closed. The money was diverted from teachers, their pensions, and from students.

A former employee of a now-closed North Philadelphia charter school has been charged with embezzling more than $350,000.

Darnell Smith, the former chief financial officer of Khepera Charter School, misused the funds while earning a six-figure salary, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Friday.

On Smith’s watch, more than $200,000 was withheld from Khepera teachers’ paychecks for retirement funds, the attorney general said. But the money was never deposited into the Public School Employee Retirement System. An additional $370,000 in employer contributions was also never contributed to the system, Shapiro said...

Smith’s failure to make the pension payments ultimately forced the Pennsylvania Department of Education to withhold payments to Khepera. Eventually, the school was unable to pay teachers or its rent.

Last year, Nancy Bailey and I co-authored a glossary of words, terms, and the names of organizations in education today. It is called Edspeak and Doubletalk: A Glossary to Decipher Hypocrisy and Save Public Schooling. Truly, folks, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard, and this book is the scorecard for education policy today.

Nancy has a great eye for how language is used to deceive, and in this post, she warns educators to beware of the infiltration of business language into education. When those terms are used, she says, there is an effort underway to turn parents into customers and promote privatization.

Beware when your superintendent is called a “CEO” instead of a school superintendent. In some districts, the switch covers up the superintendent’s lack of proper education credentials.

Beware “alignment,” which is an effort to standardize curriculum, instruction and testing, and to squelch teacher creativity and autonomy.

Beware “benchmarks” and “data-driven” anything, which fit widgets but not students.

Beware the use of “customers” instead of “parents”:

With privatization, parents are customers who choose the school they want because the school is a business.

When communities are devoted to their public schools, they follow and attend Friday night football games. They attend class plays and cheer for student accomplishments. They visit student art fairs and help with school fundraisers. Public schools can be a source of pride for the community.

Parents and those in the community never used to be called customers because they had ownership of the schools. The schools belonged to them.

Open the link and see many other examples of business language that does not belong in the lexicon of educators.

John Harrington, chair of Oklahoma’s Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, wanted to force out two members of the board who apparently had conflicts of interest in their connection to scandal-scarred Epic charter schools. One is related to a founder of Epic, who made millions; the other received campaign donations from Epic. But before Harrington could act, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt fired him and replaced him with a Christian school leader.

Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday removed the president of the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board who recently led the initiation of termination proceedings against Epic Charter Schools and challenged two other board members about potential conflicts of interest with Epic.

John Harrington was notified Friday morning by Stitt’s newly appointed secretary of education that his service on the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board was over effective immediately.

Stitt’s office told the Tulsa World on Friday evening that the governor has appointed the former president of a private Christian school in Edmond in Harrington’s place.

Harrington said that only two days earlier, he had notified Stitt’s office, as well as the office of House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, of his intent to call a special meeting Nov. 18 so the board could consider voting to force members Mathew Hamrick and Phyllis Shepherd to recuse themselves from any matters related to Epic.

He provided copies of his emails to Stitt’s and McCall’s offices to the Tulsa World...

In late October, Assistant Attorney General Marie Schuble recommended that the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board enter into termination proceedings against Epic, the operator of Oklahoma’s largest online public school, called Epic One-on-One, based on the state’s new investigative audit findings that Epic’s operators might have violated fiscal management standards in their contract and various state laws, as well as for “good cause.”

The board voted 3-1 in favor, with Shepherd casting the lone “no” vote and Hamrick absent from the meeting...

As first reported in the Tulsa World, Shepherd is a relative of one of Epic’s two co-founders, who reportedly have become millionaires through their deal to manage the school, and Hamrick accepted campaign donations from one of the Epic co-founders in Hamrick’s failed bid for a state Senate seat.

In response to the Tulsa World’s reporting about Shepherd’s family tie, Speaker McCall sent Shepherd a letter and provided a copy to the Tulsa World that stated: “As an appointee to the House, my expectation is that if it is found that a conflict does exist for you to vote on matters related to Epic, that you would abstain from all future votes that are or could be encompassed by that conflict.”

In September, Harrington led Hamrick’s censure and removal from the board’s newly formed audit committee, accusing Hamrick of intentionally avoiding public votes by the board in 2019 and 2020 on matters seeking to unmask Epic’s use of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to date budgeted for student learning that Epic is keeping private.

Paul Waldman, a regular columnist for the Washington Post, lays out a nightmare scenario in which Senate Majority Leader McConnell stifles Biden’s presidency.

It now looks likely that on Jan. 20 of next year, Joe Biden will become president of the United States. And after the inaugural balls are over that evening, he will take off his tuxedo, put on a scratchy jumpsuit and check into a prison cell whose keys are held by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

For months, we’ve been contemplating a world in which Biden wins the White House and Democrats narrowly take control of the Senate. We asked ourselves if they should get rid of the filibuster (yes, they should) or grant statehood to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico (also yes).

But we didn’t spend nearly enough time contemplating what it now looks like will be the reality: a Democratic president and a Republican Senate.

We’ve seen this before, most recently in the last two years of Barack Obama’s second term. But this will be far, far worse than it was then. We’re about to witness something unprecedented in American history.

In 2014, McConnell became majority leader after Obama had already achieved most of his major legislative goals, including passing the Affordable Care Act. But now he has a chance to sabotage a Democratic president right from the start. Just as important, he knows that no matter how far he goes, the Republican Party is likely to pay only a small political price. What they get in return will be worth every penny and more.

As of now, Democrats lost one Senate seat and gained two, giving them 48. While it’s theoretically possible for them to get to 50 given the races where votes are still being counted, it looks extremely unlikely. Which means McConnell will remain as majority leader.

What does that mean? For starters, you can take all those meticulously prepared policy plans Biden and his team devised during the campaign and toss them in the trash. There will be no expansion of health coverage, no aggressive legislation to address climate change, no move toward universal child care, no increase in the minimum wage, no new Voting Rights Act and no infrastructure spending. None of it.

Nor will there be a new stimulus bill to help the economy recover from the pandemic, since McConnell knows that Biden will be blamed if the economy continues to struggle. At most — and even this is no guarantee — McConnell may allow continuing resolutions that keep the government open at its current funding levels. There will be no other significant legislation as long as Republicans retain control.

That’s just the beginning. McConnell now clearly believes that conservative domination of the courts is his most lasting legacy. Between now and January, during Trump’s lame duck period, McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) will run a conveyor belt to confirm judges to every last open seat at every level.

And then the confirmation process will simply shut down. Forget about filling a Supreme Court vacancy if one occurs; McConnell won’t permit Biden to fill any judicial vacancy. Not one.

“Oh, come on,” you might be saying. “He’d never go that far.” You don’t think so? Just wait.

We’re not done. The president gets to fill about 4,000 positions throughout the executive branch, and a remarkable 1,200 of those require confirmation by the Senate. What if McConnell and the Republicans just decided to confirm none of Biden’s appointments? No secretary of the Treasury, no EPA administrator, no assistant secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management — none of them. We’ve already got all those bureaucrats, Republicans will say, why do we need to keep adding more?

Or at the very least, they’ll tell Biden: You can have a secretary of State if you really want one. But we get to tell you who it can and can’t be. First rule: It has to be a Republican. Take it or leave it.

Such a comprehensive stonewall would be unprecedented in American history. But McConnell has shown not just a willingness but an eagerness to violate any norm or rule if it serves his party’s purposes and he thinks he can get away with it. He’ll come up with some ludicrous justification (“No president whose election was decided when it was 52 degrees in Washington in a year ending in zero has ever had his Cabinet confirmed!”), then every Republican will dutifully repeat it, and eventually Democrats will stop complaining, because what are you gonna do?

Biden’s presidency would then limp along pathetically until the midterm elections in 2022, when there would be at least a glimmer of hope. More Republican Senate seats will be up that year; I count six that could be vulnerable, especially in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

But midterm elections usually favor the opposition party. Are Democratic voters going to turn out in droves to help a president who has been unable to deliver on any of his promises?

Of course, this all depends on every Republican senator going along with McConnell’s plan for the Mother of All Stonewalls. Which they will. They’ve shown again and again that they don’t care what norms are violated — if they can do it, they will do it. Just ask Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Then in four years, Republicans will say, “Look what a failure President Biden has been! Democrats can’t get anything done!”

I wish I could say that the voters will rise up in outrage and cast them out. But right now it’s hard to feel optimistic.

For many years, the American government’s broadcast outlet was widely perceived as independent and nonpartisan. Trump has sought to demolish that reputation by putting a loyal Trumper in charge.

The Washington Post editorial board wrote:

THE U.S. government’s international broadcasting has long had one big advantage over its Russian and Chinese competition: a commitment to independent journalism, rather than official propaganda. Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and other outlets are staffed by professionals who deliver unbiased news reports, including about the U.S. government, earning them credibility and influence with audiences around the world — especially in countries that lack free media.


President Trump is bent on destroying that legacy. Last spring, infuriated by VOA’s failure to echo his hyperbolic rhetoric about the “China virus,” he bullied reluctant Republican senators into confirming his highly partisan nominee to head the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), which oversees U.S. broadcasting. That official, Michael Pack, immediately embarked on a purge of the journalistic leadership of the organizations; he also refused to renew visas of dozens of foreign journalists who work for them.


Now Mr. Pack has launched a direct assault on the journalistic code that has been the U.S. calling card. Late Monday night, he unilaterally issued an order he said revoked a USAGM regulation creating a “firewall” between management and the journalism of the networks. His objection is to the rule’s prohibition of “attempts” by USAGM executives “to direct, pressure, coerce, threaten, interfere with, or otherwise impermissibly influence any of the USAGM Networks . . . in the performance of their journalistic and broadcasting duties.”
Mr. Pack would like to do all those things in advancement of his aim to repress reporting that might offend the White House. For example, he already ordered an investigation of veteran VOA reporter Steve Herman for supposed anti-Trump bias. Mr. Herman’s sin was to report, accurately, that Vice President Pence had failed to wear a mask during a visit to the Mayo Clinic. The probe was a blatant violation of the firewall that Mr. Pack now says he has dismantled. In a memo to staff, he unabashedly said he acted so that he could “enforce consequences for . . . biased reporting.”




Unfortunately for Mr. Trump’s minion, the independence of VOA’s journalism is guaranteed not just by the regulation he said he repealed but also by a law passed by Congress, which mandates the “professional independence and integrity” of U.S. broadcasting. But Mr. Pack is not much deterred by legal barriers. According to a half-dozen whistleblowers who filed a complaint with the State Department’s inspector general, he has improperly diverted funds, sidelined executives who told him he was violating the law and tried to investigate the voting history of USAGM employees.
Mr. Pack has drawn bipartisan criticism from both houses of Congress — which he reacted to by ignoring a subpoena to testify to a House committee.

On Tuesday, the senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul (Tex.), tweeted that “it is unclear why CEO Pack is opposed to journalistic objectivity at USAGM and its networks. Without it, the mission and effectiveness of the agency is undermined.” In fact, Mr. Pack’s motives appear perfectly clear: He wishes to turn U.S. broadcasting into a pro-Trump propaganda operation. Unless Mr. Trump is defeated and Mr. Pack removed, the unique power of U.S. foreign broadcasting will likely be destroyed.

Jennifer Berkshire writes in this post about the educational awakening in Arizona, the result of #red4ed and the teachers’ revolt of 2018.

Proposition 208 is on the ballot. It calls for a 3.5% tax increase on people earning over $250,000 a year, to be used to raise teachers’ salaries and hire more teachers. Surprisingly, 60% of voters appear to favor the measure, including a sizable number of Republicans.

She writes:

That taxing the rich to pay for schools would emerge as a cause with bipartisan support in 2020 is not a complete surprise. More Arizonans now identify education, not immigration, as the top priority facing the state, reflecting mounting concern with schools that are notoriously underfunded, teachers who are poorly paid, and a teacher shortage crisis so severe that 28 percent of the state’s classrooms lack a permanent teacher.

Education has become a potent political issue since #RedforEd protests shone a harsh light on the condition of Arizona’s schools in 2018. After a historic teacher strike, educators doubled down on electoral organizing. Democrats gained four seats in the state House of Representatives that year. Now they’re poised to tip the House and possibly the Senate in their favor. If they succeed, voter dissatisfaction with the GOP’s embrace of controversial policies aimed at dismantling, defunding, and privatizing education will be a major reason.

A similar pattern is playing out in other key battleground states, including Michigan and Texas. In these states and others, the gulf between voters who believe in taxpayer-funded public education and GOP candidates who are hostile to it has created an opening for Democrats.

For decades, Arizona has been a petri dish for free market education experiments. Charter schools, publicly funded private schools, education savings accounts that allow parents to spend taxpayer funds on a dizzying array of education “options” with little state oversight or accountability—the Grand Canyon State has them all...

As school choice offerings in the state have ballooned, they have increasingly competed for funding with traditional public schools. “It all comes out of the same funding bucket, and the bucket wasn’t that big to begin with,” said Sharon Kirsch, research director for the grassroots public education advocacy group Save Our Schools Arizona...

That hands-off, regulation-free vision is precisely what an array of deep-pocketed interest groups in Arizona are pushing. Organizations like the Americans for Prosperity, funded by Charles Koch and the American Federation for Children, founded by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, are a major presence in the state. More recent arrivals to the school choice lobbying space include Yes Every Kid, which is another Koch project, and Love Your School, an offshoot of the right-wing Center for Arizona Policy.

Said Kirsch: “I’m not sure most people have any idea that these groups are essentially running education policy in Arizona...”

Berkshire points out that teachers are running for office, and their prospects look good. Arizona may be about to throw off the shackles of one-party rule that has crippled the state’s public schools and turned it into a free-market for privatizers, religious zealots, rightwing nuts, libertarians, and profiteers.

John Loflin of Indianapolis writes about the money flowing into the city’s school board elections from out-of-state billionaires and their usual front called Stand for Children.

Loflin writes:

To whom it may concern:

Just in case you have not seen this Recorder story, “Political groups give over $200,000 to Charter friendly candidates for IPS” here’s the link: Political Groups Give $200,000 To Some Candidates In IPS Board Race.

This inordinate, almost obscene, amount of money–notably from out of state donors–just to run for a board seat in a school district with just 31,000+ students, raises deep concerns about how democratic is the institution of public education in Indianapolis: http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Purchasing-the-2012-2014-and-2016-IPS-school-board-elections.pdf.
Who is flooding Indianapolis with such large amounts of money?

We know Stand for Children/Mind Trust are now spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, using a 501c4 in Oregon, to elect their candidates. We also know that Stand for Children, the Mind Trust, Rise Indy, and the Teachers Alliance for Equitable Public Schools (TAEPS) are all part of the same group of people out to buy and control IPS. They’re funded by conservative white billionaires like Michael Bloomberg or Alice Walton who will never step foot in Indianapolis. And they use state legislation created by the conservative/right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). 

Check the diagram connecting all the dots “Out of state ed reform money floods into Indiana communities.”https://www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org/2020/10/25/out-of-state-education-reform-money-floods-into-indiana-communities/?fbclid=IwAR0YlnDEXVJorGXk1It7xIpnRSlp9FBEtISSVZjZOh7r415toXBRF7DqlEY

Inline image

Now Bart Peterson’s PAC, Hoosiers for Great Public Schools, is in the mix,
IPS candidate Mr. Kenneth Allen $$

https://www.wfyi.org/news/articles/ips-school-board-candidates-biography-raises-questions

http://ofm.indy.gov/CampaignFinanceAPI/Document/Index?documentName=IPS+School+Board%5cAllen%2c+Kenneth_schbd-msdips_2020-10-14_CFA-4-PE.pdf  $102, 333

http://ofm.indy.gov/CampaignFinanceAPI/Document/Index?documentName=IPS+School+Board%5cAllen%2c+Kenneth_schbd-msdips_2020-10-14_CFA-11.pdf   +$21,000=$123,333Search IPS candidate’s campaign finance records here:https://www.indy.gov/workflow/search-campaign-finance-records
A closer look at Bart Peterson’s Hoosiers for Great Public Schools PAC which has $400,000.00

https://campaignfinance.in.gov/INCF/TempDocs/411150e6-8fb6-4c1e-aaf6-c25bd5769224.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1-MfMLKt7Lyan4RHG_M2VglDQ6cQqXq5oKCfJ5J_p5A_2a2HVOYjypqBk

Rise Indy PAC has $559,995.00https://campaignfinance.in.gov/INCF/TempDocs/7a1c3a86-0c53-419d-a8a0-efe4588f2660.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1Sew-TmY98x3s3ROeqd-ZE6Dd2AadxFzeKpYN9awQQp5vu2cGr4kuJrHUHere’s the article “Who paid to make IPS the 2nd most privatized school district in the US?”

https://dianeravitch.net/2020/04/30/tom-ultican-who-paid-to-make-indianapolis-the-second-most-privatized-school-district-in-the-nation/Here’s an essay I wrote, “Does Indianapolis actually want an entirely privatized school district?http://vorcreatex.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Does-Indianapolis-actually-want-an-entire-privatized-school-system.pdf
Let’s have a public conversation about why someone needs $123K to run for school board, and if we have a democracy or a corporatocracy.

John Harris Loflin

Parent Power–Indianapolis affiliate of Parents Across AmericaEducation-Community Action Team

317.998.1339